Starting uni, at any age, is a daunting experience. As a mature student this week I’ve found myself a little lost – even after all the preparation I’ve done. Money and student finances seem to be at the top of the stress ladder for most students so here are a few tips for saving money as a student.
Make Sure You Get All Your Money
It’s made pretty clear when applying to university to make sure you get your application for finance and maintenance in as soon as you can, allowing the uni to get your tuition fees and giving you the financial relief of being able to pay for your accommodation and such. BUT please make sure that you apply to everything you are entitled to.
Some universities have additional bursaries that are given to students who meet certain criteria, such as being parents, being international students or those who have a disability. You can usually find more information on your university’s website or you can speak to a support officer to see if there is anything else you can apply for.
If you’re not living in student accommodation such as halls or a student house, then make sure you inform your local council to receive your council tax discount. For students living with non-students that usually means a 25% discount off the total bill.
Students who are parents can look into help with their childcare costs, whether that’s through Student Finance as a childcare grant, through universal credit or the government’s tax-free childcare scheme.
Batch Cook Meals
Cooking in bulk and freezing meals is a great way to stop you ordering that take-away once you get in from a long day at uni. Invest in a slow cooker or a pressure cooker, throw in your favourite ingredients and cook up a big pot. Chillis, casseroles, curries and soups work really well. Portion them into individual containers, freeze and then heat up as needed. Much cheaper than that pizza, and more than likely healthier for you too.
Cashback. Cashback. Cashback.
Regular readers of my blog will know how much I LOVE my cashback; it’s free money so who wouldn’t? Sites such as TopCashback, Quidco and Boom25 are a fantastic way of saving money when you shop online. Whether it’s new items for your student accommodation, books for your course or even a takeaway. Yes, I know that contradicts the last tip but if you’re going to order it then you might as well save money.
Buy A Travel Mug
Now, this is a tip I covered in my Student Gift Guide recently, and I’ve already made savings myself. Buy a travel mug for your hot drinks because most coffee places will knock a few pence off your beverage of choice. I know my uni knocks 20p off if you use your own cup and some of the larger chains knock off up to 50p on each drink ordered.
Student Tips From The UK Money Bloggers
Who best to talk to about saving money, and being financially savvy, while at university than the UK Money Bloggers? I asked a few of the bloggers who had been to uni what their biggest money/finance/budgeting tip or piece of advice was as well as a non-money-based tip – so things they should definitely do/see/experience etc Here is what they had to say…
Money Tip: I did the whole uni experience and loved and hated parts. Budget it’s key. Know what you have as soon as the student finance is in your account, know how much you can spend each week and stick to it.
Non-Money Tip: Experience as much of university as possible, go on trips, do some of the nights out with course friends, get involved in some societies and have fun. Uni is hard work, so make sure you have some fun while you’re there, otherwise, it gets boring.
Money Tip: Save, even if just a little, from the word go. Habits last a lifetime so get into them as soon as possible.
Non-Money Tip: My uni tip would be to just throw yourself in, try new stuff, learn about yourself. You have the opportunity to be totally different to school because no one knows you. Take advantage.
Money Tip: Don’t buy all the textbooks new. You might have to buy some but look for secondhand or see if you can share with a friend.
Other Money Tip: get a part-time job on campus if possible. They’ll understand the need to prioritise your studies at times, it will be close by so you can get to the library or to and from lectures easily, and the rate of pay is often higher than minimum wage.
Money Tip: get a job. Even if it’s only something for 8 hours a week. You’re going to spend a lot on drinking (if you choose to drink) and uni supplies and you’re far better paying in cash than adding to your student debt!
Non-Money Tip: Join a club or society. I joined the swim team, spent about 5 minutes in the pool in the two years I was a member, met so many wonderful friends and actually met my now fiance through that group.
Money Tip: buy food in big packs and separate it into individual portions and freeze. I did this and it meant that I could eat good food for less. Also look out for student job opportunities on campus. Quite often they are looking for students to be involved in outreach and pay good money for this.
Non-Money Tip: Try all the sports. Never will you as much access to so many sports as you do at university. So go along, try them out and see if you like them.
Money Tip: Think about how long your student loan needs to last. It was the biggest amount of money I’d ever had in my bank account and I felt mega rich! But after I took off my rent, and divided by the weeks it had to cover, I wasn’t left with much. Good to check before blowing it on booze, tech and clothes in week 1…
Non-Money Tip: Uni is about so much more than grades. Seize the chance to try new stuff, sports, societies, drama, music, student newspaper, whatever takes your fancy. You’ll meet new people and never know where it might lead. One year, I worked as a student bar manager. It meant I could earn money while socialising, but was also something to discuss in job interviews.
Money Tip: My DD2 has just gone back for year 3. My money tip would be to pay your rent at the beginning of each term then divide your remaining student loan by the number of weeks until next loan payment and ONLY spend that amount.
Non-Money Tip: agree with housemates early on house rules and cleaning schedules otherwise at the end of the year you’ll have a nasty shock when the agency threatens you with losing your deposit unless you re-paint your walls. (Don’t use blutack!)
Non-Money Tip #2: Join as many societies and clubs as possible to get out and about. Best time to learn something new.
Money tip: Dealing with debt. University will likely bring about your very first brush with debt; student loans (Technically this is a graduate tax not debt but you will still feel like it’s one), overdrafts and credit cards.
While most students will have no choice but to take these on to manage the spiralling costs of university, the key is to manage your debt carefully. Be careful about the cost of debt (i.e., interest rate) and make sure you’re getting the best offers with your overdraft.
A lot of universities have some hardship funds to help students facing financial difficulties, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if things are getting out of control.
Student tip: Study hard and definitely fill your social calendar as the friends you make will hopefully form your support network when go into the working world.
Bonus tip: Embrace the freeness. Most of us like a good bargain, but everyone loves free stuff! Make friendly with the Milk Round, the term given to describe companies touring universities every year to promote their opportunities and coax students into their various graduate schemes. This includes offering tons of free giveaways, including, food and toiletries. See what bargains you can pick up while perhaps taking an important career step at the same time? Win/win!
More Money Shaving Tips from Dorco
The guys at Dorco dropped this awesome infographic in my inbox as I was planning this post, great timing, which I thought would also be useful. Dorco is a razor subscription service, hence the “Money Shaving Tips” but I’ll be talking about that in a separate post.
What’s your best tip for students? It doesn’t have to be a money related one.